The private equity veteran Jon Moulton is in talks to sell one of Britain’s biggest office supplies wholesalers as it grapples with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sky News understands that Better Capital, Mr Moulton’s listed investment vehicle, is working with advisers to sell Spicers-Office Team (SPOT).
AlixPartners, which is handling the process, is understood to have set a deadline for offers last Friday.
SPOT employs about 1200 people, and has been owned by the firm set up by Mr Moulton for nearly a decade.
The company is said to be drawing up contingency plans for a possible pre-pack administration or other form of insolvency if a solvent sale of SPOT proves to be unachievable.
Sources said the office supplies market had been “hammered” by the COVID-19 outbreak, with sales “decimated” by the sudden closure of many corporate offices.
In an update to the London Stock Exchange last month, Better Capital said SPOT was “in a difficult period with its business affected by the widespread and unprecedented effects of the pandemic”.
“The recent performance has been quite mixed with Chinese supply largely restored, protective equipment demand very strong and issues affecting smaller market participants all positives.”
It added, though, that “bad debt, actual and potential and deeply uncertain demand are considerable negatives”.
“In common with many other businesses at this time the future for SPOT is uncertain.
“Much effort is being applied seeking to ensure a satisfactory future for the business.”
Better Capital declined to comment on the sale process.